Cadaver Takes Unexpected Detour
Sep 17, 10:56 am ET
SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) - The body of a California man headed for burial in his native Mexico mistakenly ended up in Greece and weeping relatives only discovered the mix-up when they opened the casket and found a stranger inside.
Robert Castaneda's family, who raised $8,000 to bring back the body of their 68-year-old patriarch to a final resting place, were shocked to find a dead African-American man with a cigar and a book displaying a picture of the World Trade Center, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Monday.
Castaneda died 10 days ago in California and his relatives thought they had flown the body back to his home town of Apatzingan in the Mexican state of Michoacan. They realized, however, it was the wrong cadaver when they opened the casket on Friday.
"My sister called us immediately," Belen Castaneda, the Mexican dead man's daughter, told the newspaper. "She was in shock. She said that wasn't my father, and we couldn't believe what was happening to us."
Delta Air Lines officials phoned the family to inform them Castaneda's body had somehow ended up in Greece, according to the newspaper.
That casket was flown to New York and is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Monday along with the mystery cadaver, whose identity was not known, the newspaper said.
Delta spokeswoman Peggy Estes said on Monday the airline was conducting an investigation to determine whether proper procedures for transporting human remains were followed.
Family members added they do not know whether the airline, airport workers or the funeral home made the mistake but were trying to raise more money to get Castaneda's body back to Mexico, according to the Mercury News.